Teaching Online - A Teacher's Perspective

For many professional musicians, online lessons are just par for the course. They spend a lot of their time touring throughout the year or moving around with various shows and performances.

The skill to teach remotely has become a valuable skill for many sought-after musicians. In Ireland, the vast majority of tutors teach from a school or studio, so recent developments have seen them adapting to completely new territory.

In the words of Fingal Academy of Music's Sarah May Rogers:

Our sitting room or kitchen has now become our workspace, like many others, and we want to feel confident that we are doing as best we can for our students in these tough times.

Sarah May has spent the last few weeks researching best practices for online teaching. This “new normal” has sparked much debate among music teachers in online forums, and within our networks at home.

Sarah had some interesting discussions with her music colleagues around how everyone is feeling so we decided to feature some of the conversations here, starting firstly with Zena Palmer, a music teacher from County Dublin.

Sarah: “I listened to a great Podcast from Niall Breslin (Mental Health Advocate, founder of A Lust for Life and Where is My Mind? Podcast), where he mentioned how online video communication is potentially as effective as face to face interaction. It really got me thinking about the pros and cons of online teaching and what the general consensus might be among our fellow music teachers."

Zena, how do you feel we have adapted to these abrupt changes in teaching methods and what in your opinion are the benefits of online teaching?

Zena: "Teaching online is a lot more demanding on both parties although it may not appear that way at first. It requires a lot more extra preparation and, personally, I have had to think on my feet and learn technology fast - technology that I didn't really know well before I was plunged into this online teaching world head first!

For me, the most important part about it is the continuity of lessons with the student. Particularly in the early years of learning, practice habits depend on having a lesson later on that week.

Music lessons are a huge investment, both financially and time-wise, so it would be such a pity to throw that away and stop lessons for the duration, when we don't have an end point. I truly believe that regression would occur, and then lead to a student giving up an instrument.

Online lessons are not my preferred method of taking a student on a musical journey, but at times like this, it is crucial to keep it going to aid in seamlessly returning to normal eventually.”

Zena Palmer DipABRSM, is a Piano & Singing Teacher, Professional Accompanist, Multi-instrumentalist and she was recently in training as an examiner for the RIAM.

Below is a photograph taken at the début concert of Cevino Trio's in July 2019 in the beautiful setting of Ardgillan Castle, North County Dublin.

Sarah May Rogers on Violin, Zena Palmer on Piano, and Rob Campbell, Cello.

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